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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 00:52 GMT 01:52 UK
Zia ready to take reins in Bangladesh
A Muslim voter casts her ballot paper in Dhaka
The government has been wiped out in its heartlands
The winner of general elections in Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia, says that she will meet with the head of the caretaker government on Wednesday to discuss the formation of her new administration.

Mrs Zia is expected to be formally announced as prime minister by President Shahabuddin Ahmed within the next two days.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia, left, with her granddaughter in Dhaka
BNP leader Khaleda Zia was last in power in 1996
Mrs Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its three coalition partners won a two-thirds majority in parliament, ousting Sheikh Hasina's Awami League from office.

Final results still have to be confirmed, but the latest count indicates that the BNP-led alliance has won 185 seats, with the Awami League predicted to have just 62 representatives in the 300-member parliament.

A total of 17 constituencies are repolling and one postponed the vote because a candidate died.


In a brief post-election address Mrs Zia called upon her supporters not to take revenge for any injustices they may have endured in recent years.

The BBC's Alastair Lawson in Dhaka says this is clearly meant as a message of reconciliation after a campaign in which 140 people were killed.

Sheikh Hasina was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying she rejected the results.

"The people will not accept the election results that have been overtly rigged. So I cannot go against their sentiment," she was quoted as saying.


The poll was preceded by the most violent campaign in the country's 30-year history and diplomats warn that further unrest could follow - they say there is a strong possibility that angry supporters of the losing party will take to the streets.

Our correspondent says it is a devastating defeat for the Awami League.

Most cabinet members have lost their seats and the party has been wiped out in its traditional heartlands, such as the capital.

There was a high turn-out among the nearly 75 million people who were eligible to vote and, although three deaths were reported during polling itself, officials said the process was largely peaceful.

The caretaker government in charge of overseeing the poll deployed at least 100,000 security personnel to prevent further bloodshed.


The poll was monitored by more than 300,000 election observers.

President of the Awami League, Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina rejected result

International monitors described the poll as "generally free and fair" but expressed concern over intimidation and violence.

Four voting centres in the city of Chittagong were closed down early because of suspected irregularities and there were reports of clashes between rival supporters in the southern district of Feni.

Throughout Bangladesh large queues of people formed outside polling centres.


Foreign and international observers said that early signs were that a large proportion of those eligible to vote had done so.

Access for the country's 500,000 cell phones was switched off two hours before voting started, so that potential troublemakers could not use them to plan violence.

The vote was Bangladesh's first national election for five years and because of the young population many were voting for the first time.

For many women, too, polling was a new experience. Many were targeted by special campaigns encouraging them to get out and vote.

The belligerent atmosphere was fuelled to some extent by the negative campaigning of Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.

The BBC's Fiona Werge
"BNP supporters are celebrating their election victory"
Sheikh Hasina, Awami League
"What people wanted is not reflected in the result"
See also:

30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Deaths mar Bangladesh election
02 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: A tale of two women
28 Sep 01 | South Asia
Campaigning ends in Bangladesh
23 Sep 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh rally bombed
07 Sep 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh poll line-up complete
17 Jun 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh hunts party office bombers
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